Letter to Editor: Marking the memory of Salvador Allende

Politics / Wed 13th Sep 2023 at 08:11am

Dear Editor,

THIS week marks fifty years since General Augusto Pinochet led a bloody coup on September 11th 1973 to overthrow the democratically elected Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende. Allende believed in helping the poor and wanted to change Chile and was seen as a threat to the right. The coup started with the bombing of the presidential palace. After ordering his allies to surrender, Allende stayed in the palace and killed himself rather than surrender.

Thousands of those that the right considered political enemies were herded into the country’s main football stadium where they were interrogated, tortured and, in many cases, murdered.

 Pinochet’s far right dictatorship reigned for 17 years and unleashed a rule of terror and cruelty designed to intimidate and crush opposition. Under his regime thousands of political activists, teachers, lawyers, trade unionists and students were arrested or simply “disappeared”. Pinochet was never brought to justice for his crimes although he was briefly held under house arrest while in Britain for medical treatment in 1999. One of his most vocal supporters was former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher who regarded this brutal dictator as a friend.

We used to have a road named Allende Avenue in Harlow but Conservative members of Harlow Council decided to erase this name and rename the road in honour of President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. There are enough roads in Harlow to enable one to be named after Zelenskyy if that is what is agreed. One can’t help feeling that this move was a political manoeuvre by the Tories to obliterate the name of an honourable, democratically elected Socialist while at the same time covering up a reminder of their allies from a brutal wing of the far right. 

Yours sincerely,

Janet Szpakowski

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6 Comments for Letter to Editor: Marking the memory of Salvador Allende:

2023-09-13 11:52:24

Absolutely right. Those who want to erase the memory of the fascistic coup do so because, come the circumstances, they are prepared to repeat it

James Leppard
2023-09-13 15:24:01

The motion to rename Allende Avenue was carried unanimously by both Conservative and Labour councillors. Every aspect of history has two sides. I have been to and worked in Chile during many years and am fully aware of the polarisation and polemic that Allende and Pinochet arouse. Allende was elected President in 1970 with 36.2% of the vote. He failed to achieve a majority in the elected Congress. His economic policies, although initially boosted growth, his un backed monetary expansion led to hyperinflation, huge fall in real wages, devaluation of the currency and a major depletion of foreign reserves resulting in a widespread black market for basic goods. Many expropriations undertaken by the Allende regime were of dubious legal standing. Since 1973, Chile has become the most stable and well managed economy in Latin America. It is a member of the OECD and since the referendum in 1988, when Pinochet stood down, Chile has become the most consolidated democracy in the region. Although brutal in many respects, Pinochet's atrocities were far exceeded by the Argentine military junta. We should not forget the very valuable logistical and intelligence Pinochet provided Britain during the Falklands conflict.

Bruce Downey
2023-09-13 16:35:49

Myself and many others have never heard of Salvador Allende..best left in the history books.😏

Mark Gobell
2023-09-15 15:34:18

I was 13 in 1973 and have always been under the impression that the coup against Allende was organised by the CIA at the behest of ITT et al ... I.T.T. proposed an “economic squeeze” on Chile through denial of international credit, a ban on imports of copper and other Chilean products and on vital exports to Chile so that sufficient “economic chaos” would develop to convince the armed forces to “step in and restore order.” https://www.nytimes.com/1972/07/03/archives/papers-show-itt-urged-us-to-help-oust-allende-suggestions-for.html

F Williams
2023-09-16 23:02:26

I had assumed that our town’s elected representatives wouldn’t write apologia for the overthrow of democratically elected governments by brutal dictators but maybe that was naive.

2023-09-21 23:33:48

Perhaps councillors should leave renaming roads well alone rather than getting caught up in the world of virtue signalling? You lot are getting way above your brief and more people/voters are noticing it.

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